We are delighted to announce that Isabella Hammad has been awarded the 2024 Encore Award for Enter Ghost yesterday evening on Wednesday 19 June. Isabella received her award at a special event in central London, at which former winner Caoilinn Hughes – who took the prize home in 2021 – acted as host for the evening.

I’m so thrilled to be awarded this wonderful prize,’ Isabella said. ‘Second novels are, as I was repeatedly told, notoriously difficult – not only to write, but also to sell. Everyone loves a debut, but I think it may actually be in the tricky transition from the first book to the second that a writer really becomes a writer. I’m happy to have made it to the other side, and really honoured that my second novel has been recognised in this way.

This year’s judges, Fergal Keane, Malika Booker and Maura Dooley, praised Isabella Hammad’s beautiful prose and focus on the role of art in creating a shared humanity.

‘Enter Ghost is as profound as it is powerful,’ they said. ‘Hammad tells the story of Sonia, a British Palestinian actress who flees a failed marriage and love affair in London to stay with her sister in the West Bank. Family tensions, the haunting of lost love and the impositions of the Israeli occupation build, quite literally, towards a dramatic conclusion: the denouement takes place during a production of Hamlet, staged in the presence of Israeli troops. In a voice that is always original Hammad takes one of the most intractable and polarising conflicts of our time and creates a story braided through with compassion and wisdom. The political, she reminds us, is always human.’

Isabella Hammad is the author of The Parisian. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize for Fiction, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Palestine Book Award and a Betty Trask Award. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Lannan Foundation. In 2023, she was on Granta’s once-in-a-decade Best Young British Novelists list.